Sunday, July 28, 2013

--Keeping Track of Internet "Cousins"; --NARA Introduces a New Search Tool

Keeping Track of Internet "Cousins"

Several years back when I began posting my family tree on, I started getting responses from distant relatives that I had never known existed.  I soon recognized that I could not remember who these people were, how to contact them and to which line of the family they were related.  

This led me to doing two things.  In my Outlook e-mail program I created an "Internet Relatives" file under "Genealogy".  I also started an "Internet Relatives" file in my hard copy file.  Thus, when I receive an e-mail, either direct or through Ancestry; I store it in the outlook file and make a copy and put it in the hard copy file (I know this would drive Dick Eastman crazy; but, yes, I still have a hard copy file!).  Within that file I have a Microsoft Word document listing all these contacts by family line, which I also have in my computer "Documents" file.  I provide a short summary about my previous contact with them as well as contact information, such as e-mail address, phone number and/or address.

I find this very helpful whenever I have a significant genealogical development and want to pass the information along to family members.  In addition to my close relatives, with whom I correspond on a regular basis; I check my files and add these "internet relatives".  

I am sure many of you have similar (and better) ways of keeping track of your "internet relatives"; but thought I would share mine.  I would enjoy hearing about your methods.    


Diane Haddad in her Genealogy Insider Blog recently carried an announcement by NARA on their new Online Public Access (OPA) search.  According to the report NARA will be shutting down its 10-year-old Archival Research Catalog on August 15 and replacing it with OPA.

It was not clear to me whether OPA is currently available, so I checked the NARA web site and it is currently an option for searches.  They have a series of tips on how to use this new search tool and, as with many online searches, there is an "advanced" search option which provides several additional ways to filter or focus the search.   

One would assume this search will provide improved result and be easier; but having played with it just briefly, I will reserve judgement and do some searches comparing the "old" with the "new" and report my results next week.  Meanwhile, if you have some time, you too also might want to take a look at this new NARA search tool.